Big storm clean-up gets into top gear

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The big post-snow clean-up in the Waitaki is well under way, with repairs to roads and infrastructure set to cost in the region of $1.6 million.

The final figure will not be known until the damage has been fully assessed but a significant portion will be subsidised by the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Waitaki District Council (WDC) assets manager roading Michael Voss said the latest weather event surpassed anything experienced in recent years.

“More than 70 roads were closed throughout the district during the peak of the event,” he said.

“Lessons learned in previous years were put into practice.” Although closed roads and bridges had “road closed” signage in place, Mr Voss said he was disappointed to learn that some signage had been moved, ignored or stolen.

“This is foolhardy because it puts other road users at risk,” he said.

In preparation for the weather event and the likely level of the clean-up, the council had imported two snowploughs. Mr Voss said these were an important asset during and immediately after the event because of the restricted access to some areas.

“We have also used new materials in the repair programme, including rock from an Airedale quarry, which is proving effective in reducing snow damage,” he said.

“This rock was used after the recent heavy rain, and the `before’ and `after’ pictures show it has stayed in place in spite of all the water flow and snow.”

For residents of Dansey’s Pass, who lost their bridge, there is better news which should solve access issues.

“Currently we are upgrading the ford, but it is marginal to vehicles like tractors and unsuitable for 4x4s, stock trucks and private vehicles,” he said.

“We are investigating providing a single-span bailey bridge, which could be in place around Christmas.

“Our second bridge of concern is the abutment at the Kauru Bridge over the Kakanui River, which was washed away, and this is also being repaired.”

Gards Rd, Kurow, which sustained major washout damage in the two most recent weather events, may also be partially reconfigured, according to Mr Voss.

Mr Voss says the current focus of the WDC roading team and contractors South Roads is to provide access in and out of properties; to make sure roads, including arterial roads, which carry vehicles such as school buses and Fonterra tankers, are open; and to provide repairs to ongoing issues with under-slips and pot holes on roads.

“The extent of the saturated ground and mud created by the flooding will cause ongoing delays with the remedial work,” he said.

“It is expected that the damage caused by the latest weather event will take several months to fully repair and it is important for the community to understand that care still needs to be taken.”

This week’s roading recovery programme has included the completion of snow clearing on all roads at Macraes. The graders that have been at Macraes are now working on the Waihemo roads, with a second one heading for Corriedale. Excavators are in the Herbert area-Waiareka Valley-Tokarahi, Ngapara and Kakanui Valley, with one due to be relocated to all side roads between Duntroon and Kurow. Dumpers are metalling where aggregate has been lost and where there are larger ruts in the road at various locations and, weather permitting, Moonlight Rd should be metalled from next Monday.

Construction has also begun on the third wash-over on Brookstead Rd.

To check the latest road information, go the WDC website: www.waitaki.govt.nz and click on road closures.

By Jacquie Webby